Data from Syracuse showed that both groups improved and retained motor skills, Columna said. When Fit Families started hosting workshops virtually in March, the team was unable to collect follow-up data in person, instead assessing children through video calls or creating instructional videos teaching parents how to do so themselves.
“We discovered a new way to collect data, which is fantastic,” Columna said. Though it is currently difficult to compare pre- and post-program assessments, given the difference in methodology, he added that the qualitative findings have been clear: “They felt supported and that they were not alone in this.”
Columna also communicates with families through phone calls and text messages, allowing them to share information and provide feedback. And, by adapting to virtual workshops that reach both in-person and at-home groups, he said the pandemic has better prepared Fit Families to eventually expand into Wisconsin’s rural areas and even beyond the country.
Now, Columna is working on grant proposals that will help determine when to begin the next program. With more money, he said he can create longer, 16-week programs with the same topics, but with more practice time. He also hopes to collaborate with Madison public schools to train children alongside their own physical education teachers.